The peach is undoubtedly one of those delicious signatures of summer and they don't get much fresher than this - just picking them from the trees. In this orchard alone there are over 14 varieties each with its own subtle characteristics of flavor, color and texture.
But of course peaches are divided into 2 distinct categories - cling and freestone. You see these terms refer to whether the seed or the stone actually tears away from the flesh of the peach. For instance, take a look at this 'Fire Prince' you can see how easily the flesh tears away from the stone. That's why it's called a freestone. The flesh of the cling peaches, on the other hand, clings to the stone.
Now the difference in these categories of peaches goes beyond this. Whether they are cling or freestone has a bearing on the flesh. You'll find that even canned peaches will indicate the category on their label.
Let's take a look at the cling varieties first. They tend to ripen earlier in the season. They are some of the first peaches you'll find in the market and their flesh is generally firmer.
Now the freestones on the other hand ripen later and they tend to be softer and juicier. They are easy to use in cooking and to peel and slice them is a snap.
One last thought. For the best flavor when buying peaches try to purchase them around the day you will be eating them. You see they will ripen much faster than you think. And if you can't eat them all fresh, try freezing them. They will make a delicious treat when peaches aren't in season.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
© 1999 - Hortus, Ltd.